WASHINGTON — Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stood in line for a drink at Time’s pre-party at the White House Correspondents Assn. dinner, gamely waiting as attention focused on the Hollywood contingent in the room.
“There are a lot of dinners in Washington and this one is fun, always festive, and people don’t take themselves too seriously,” Sebelius told Variety.
In the corner stood Steven Spielberg, here along with Jeffrey Katzenberg, posing for the occasional photo. John Legend was nearby, with a small line forming for cell phone shots. But it was Gerard Butler who seemed the most willing to bound into the crowd, game for the attention.
Just about every major media organization sets up pre-parties in the ballrooms and meeting rooms that surround the cavernous hallways of the Washington Hilton. The difference this year, however, was the heat. With so many people packed into the L1 corridor, temperatures rose quickly.
In fact, it’s a wonder that so many A-listers come to the event year after year, perhaps more logistically challenging this year with a long security line going into the dinner that included media moguls and politicos. In previous years many VIPs have been brought backstage for a quick meet-and-greet with President Obama, but few get around the logistical hurdles. Among those in the security line this year were Leslie Moonves and Jeff Zucker, Matthew Perry and Paul Rudd, as well as Newt and Callista Gingrich. Michael Douglas and Ron Meyer rushed through the corridor, apparently anxious to get toward the ballroom before the crush, with Douglas slowed as one dinner-goer asked for another photo.
It’s not a scene for introverts — and that is why D.C. types may have the upper hand when it comes to enduring the commotion.
“Pretty good-sized crowd,” said Newt Gingrich, assessing the scene and apparently unfazed by it all. “People are pretty energetic.”